Optimistic about Gas Prices – Better than ever?

With the rising price of oil, conversations are prevalent about the negative impact on so many aspects of our routines hinging on the consumption of fuel – commuting to work, summer travel, recreational vehicles, the trickledown effect to the higher food prices and more.

Too much time is spent thinking and talking about things that are of concern to us, but not at all in our circle of influence (that which we can change). We cannot change the price of gas, but we can certainly change our habits to reduce our consumption.

Reactive people spend time and energy thinking within their circle of concern ? things that are of concern to them, but not necessarily within their ability to do something about. Proactive people spend their time and energy within their circle of influence ? working on the things that they can do something about.

Recently in a seminar we used the gas prices as our concern, and thinking about what we could influence, came up with a great list of influential ideas.

  • Carpool
  • Take advantage of the transit system (which could give us time to read, rest or do other quality tasks while we are in transit)
  • Walk more, bike to closer destinations
  • Organize our outings so that our time and fuel are efficient
  • Spend more time at home with our families, or resting and relaxing to rejuvenate ourselves
  • Eat less (we do consume far more than the basic needs of our bodies)
  • Buy oil stocks (if you can’t beat them, join them)

As Dr. Stephen Covey says in his book First Things First,too many good things are getting in the way of the best things.For example, too many errands, too many extra-curricular activities, too many convenient trips to the supermarket and malls to buy more and more stuff, too many vehicles creating pollution, and consuming more than what is good for us.These habits are getting in the way of the best things, like relaxation, exercise, proper eating and time to spend with our loved ones.

If we consumed less fuel using the strategies above, would it be true to admit that gas prices are better than ever?

It’s not what happens to us, but our response to what happens to us that can either hurt us or benefit us. It’s our choice. We are responsible (response-able = able to choose our response).

Best wishes for a fuel-efficient summer.

Penny

This article is dedicated to the fabulous team at Nasittuq – A Canadian intercultural enterprise, operating and maintaining the North Warning System (NWS), a network of radars, which “look out” from Canada’s North to detect airborne threats to North America, enhancing our security and sovereignty.

Proactivity vs Reactivity

In the first habit of Dr. Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, we learn the benefit of being proactive. To be proactive means that, as human beings, we are responsible for our own lives. In other words, we are “response-able” ? able to choose our response.

Proactive people recognize this responsibility and do not blame circumstances, situations or past conditioning for their behaviour. Rather, their behaviour is a conscious choice based on their values.

We are proactive by nature, however, when we allow our behaviour to be driven by our feelings rather than our values, we become reactive. The ability to reduce an impulse to a value is the true essence of a proactive person. Language can be a good indicator of whether someone is proactive or reactive in nature.

Reactive Language
Proactive Language
There is nothing I can do. Let’s look at our alternatives.
That’s just the way I am. I can choose a different approach.
He makes me so mad. I control my own feelings.
They won’t allow that. I can create an effective presentation.
I have to do that. I will choose an appropriate response.
I can’t. I choose.
I must. I prefer.
If only. I will.

Source: The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey

For example, imagine coworkers are excluding you from their social circle at breaks and lunch times. Initial emotions may cause your self-esteem and self-confidence to suffer. The reactive person would act on their feelings and possibly assume that there is nothing they can do, or blame others for their emotions. The proactive person would allow their values to determine their behaviour, perhaps choosing to look at alternative people to socialize with, or using a different approach of confronting the group with a chosen strategy of communication to better understand the issue.

Jack Canfield writes of this skill in his book The Success Principles, and is also quoted in The Secret, telling us of many people who have limiting beliefs about how they cannot be, do or have something because of their past conditioning ? my mother abandoned me,,my father was an alcoholic,,I was abused as a child, etc. This is just ” so what ” , Canfield says. The real “what ” is ” what are you going to do about it now? ” This is a prime example of a proactive approach to life, where we as responsible (response-able) humans are able to choose our responses, and act according to our values, rather than blame people or past conditioning for our current life circumstances.

I empower you to be proactive. Act based on your values and create the life of your dreams; the life that you deserve.

 

Penny

You Can’t be Serious

You can’t be serious all the time, so make time for humour in your workplace (that’s humor without a “u” for my American friends.) The benefits are endless: reduce stress; increase creativity; foster team cohesion; and generally encourage people to want to come to work. Here are a few suggestions categorized by every day office tasks:

Add Humour to Meetings– Why? To get people acquainted with one another; to get people comfortable in both sharing and establishing open communication; and to build trust between employees and managers. Try these tips:

  • Have a humorous theme. How about a ‘Mission: Impossible’ theme, while you deliver the agenda with a comical sense of urgency.
  • Try a fun activity of pictionary or business charades before you begin to loosen everyone up and get them in a droll mood.
  • How about setting aside a minute or two on the agenda for a ‘whine and cheese’ session where everyone can vent in a dramatic or exaggerated manner.
  • Remove the chairs for a quicker flowing meeting with a different perspective.
  • Ask an attendee to be the “Quiz Master” and generate a list of review questions at the end of the session which include some funny quiz items as well as actual agenda topics.

Sometimes the only way to make meetings more bearable is to not have them at all. (Ha ha!) Although, realistically this isn’t always possible.

Recognition – Humorous or not, acknowledgement is an integral part of employee moral and retention. Adding some fun to the recognition ceremony helps keep it alive at times when there might not even be any achievement to really recognize, but you want to keep moral up.

  • Keep a bloopers log and incorporate a reward for blunders that encourage people to take risks.
  • Create some goofy awards that get passed around when the time is right. We use a “Wake Up and Smell The Coffee” award at my office, which is a home made sachet of coffee beans that gets hung in your office when you make a silly error and need to ‘wake up and smell the coffee’. How about a “door knob” award to hang on your door knob when you deserve the title? (Poking fun at yourself is a clever way to admit your errors or oversights, and avoid the stress of holding it in or trying to cover something up.)
  • When presenting awards, try imitating the Emmy or Oscar emcees.

Communicating Difficult Material – Humour can play a big part in communicating a difficult subject in a way that helps keep the subject matter serious enough, while keeping the conversation surrounding it less offensive and light-hearted.

  • Next time you have to complain, criticize, reprimand or vent, try adding some silly movement like standing on one leg, twirling around while announcing your news or making a funny face.
  • Why not staple a piece of Kleenex to bad news memos or correspondence?

Dry or Boring Material – Need to add some spice to rather dry material?

  • Host your meeting outside the “bored-room” for a change.
  • Need some more appreciation for your hierarchy? Put baby photos on the organizational chart.

People rush home to watch their favourite comedy sitcoms on a daily basis, but when you think about it, we are only one thought away from starring in our own sitcom. You can’t be serious all the time, so make time for humour in your routines at the office. After all, laughter, camaraderie and good times are the glue that holds teams together.

Realistically not all situations call for humour, and you need to know when humour is appropriate and when it’s not. It’s helpful to be able to read people to know who may be offended by certain comments and tactics, and then act accordingly. When it comes to jokes, they should not poke fun at race or religion. Keep an eye open for opportunities to add humour into your workplace. Remember, you can’t be serious all the time.

Wishing you a fun filled summer,

 

Penny Tremblay

An Attitude of Gratitude

Simple pleasures happen every day, but do you appreciate them? Having an attitude of gratitude for the good things in life can make your world a much better place.

Research suggests that those who show appreciation for the little things in life are more optimistic and make time for healthier behaviours such as exercise, eating well and regular health care. Expressing gratitude offers other health benefits as well, such as reducing stress, anxiety and depression.

Choosing to see the bright side of things and expressing gratitude runs counter to social tendencies; therefore, it involves a big shift in the way we think. But it’s simple to create. Here are three easy tips:

Show Gratitude

Give more attention to the positives. Focus on what’s right, not what’s wrong. Try to find something positive in any situation. I have always said that if you cannot find the positive in a situation you are not thinking hard enough. Even the most troublesome circumstances can have something that you can be thankful for.

Give of Yourself

What can you do to make the world, or your community, a better place? Acts of gratitude are humbling and heart warming for the giver. Why not start with volunteering, picking up litter, or just taking the time to tell someone why you are grateful for them? These acts can be enlightening and make you aware of the gratitude you have for the world around you.

Give Thanks

Before getting into or out of bed, spend a few minutes giving thanks. Think of five things that you are thankful for and offer your sincere gratitude for them. Learning to savour the good things in life improves your mood and your energy. Can you imagine the impact that this could have on your sleep or your day? A profound impact!

These three techniques of practicing your Attitude of Gratitude work exceptionally well in ones career as well. Rather than focusing on what’s not right at your workplace, consider how showing gratitude, giving of yourself and giving thanks can improve your attitude, your service, and your workplace in general.

You’ll be surprised to see how contagious a positive change in attitude can be to those around you.

Positively,

Penny Tremblay

I would like to acknowledge a local hero, Barry Spilchuk, who has launched a company to encourage gratitude, acknowledgement, and recognition of every day heroes. Why not submit a short story for publication in his upcoming book and show gratitude to someone who has made a difference in your life.

Stress Busters for the Holidays

It is about this time of year that many people start to feel the pressure of the holiday season that is soon approaching.

The inspiration to write about this pressure or stress that we feel came to me today after a brief ‘water-cooler’ style conversation about Christmas being only 19 days away. The conversation included both feelings of anticipation and trepidation. Christmas preparation, shopping, baking, cleaning, travel plans and the likes of holiday preparation really seem to get people all worked up; and rightfully so, because on top of our already busy lives we add the extra responsibilities of keeping with traditions, and creating a memorable experience for our families.

 I thought it would be prudent at this time of year to write about the tasks that we feel obligated to perform in preparation of, during and after this busy holiday season. If we stop for a moment to really think deeply about what is important to us at this time of year, we may find our to-do list contradictory.

The celebration of Christmas is about the birth of Christ. We celebrate our faith in different ways, but the foundation of the meaning of this sacred day differs greatly from our task list for the event. Over the years, tradition has introduced material items like stockings and toys, clean houses and baked goods, etc. All of these good things are getting in the way of the best thing …. which is the real meaning of the celebration. With the time and money required to satisfy all of our ideas for the season comes fatigue, stress and even debt.

Dr. Stephen Covey, together with Roger and Rebecca Merrill wrote a fabulous book called “First Things First: To Live, to Love, to Learn, to Leave a Legacy”. When we consider putting first things first in our lives, we decide what is really important to us, and we make time for these important things first. The other “stuff” doesn’t get our time and attention, but we’ve decided it’s just “other stuff”, and we are happy.

For example, if you decide that one of the first things in your life is your family connection, then do the things that are important for a great family connection. Perhaps that means instead of having an event that requires material gifts and a clean house, you make a family tobogganing date, or you make time to connect by communicating with one another. If the house is a mess when your family comes over, ask them to excuse the mess and let them know that you wanted to save your energy to really enjoy their company. My point is that everything we do is a choice, and we often have expectations of ourselves at this time of year that are unrealistic. When we take time to really think about what is most important in our lives, we can re-evaluate these choices, so that our actions are in harmony with our values.

Following my “water-cooler” conversation, I had the privilege of joining in my young children’s school mass where their priest encouraged them to “Be A Gift” at Christmas time. At this age, children don’t typically have the resources to go and buy gifts for people, or even hand craft the number of gifts to serve everyone that they want to share the spirit of Christmas with. He asked them what they could do to to “Be A Gift” to others at this time of year. There answers were adorable, simple, stress free, cost free, and definitely worth sharing with anyone who wants to think more like a kid, and exchange some stress for some happiness at this time of year.

 · be a good friend  · zip up my brother’s snow pants  · listen
 · love one-another  · listen to my parents  · call my Grandparents
 · help a neighbour  · share more  · help others find joy
 · pray for someone  · forgive  · make someone laugh

The suggestions made by the children are an excellent example of how we can share the spirit of Christmas without a great deal of stress, or a big investment of money or energy. These are simple gestures of love and kindness that we sometimes overlook in the hype of the season. They are all great but simple gifts that we can give. I have often heard comments after the season of how exhausted people are, and how their time was spent like a whirlwind, not really able to take the time to find the joy in the season. Perhaps we need to revert back to our childhood slightly and keep things more simple.

I would like to empower you to think deeply about what is really important, and decide for yourself how to invest your energy this season. Don’t forget about yourself, and the happiness that you deserve at this time of year. If we get what we give, then giving love and sharing joy at this time of year will definitely bring an abundance of good things to our lives. It’s your choice, and its in your good hands.

God Bless,

Penny Tremblay

 “Children spell love differently than we do. They spell it T-I-M-E.” ~ unknown

* This article is dedicated to a frequent reader and fan, Christine Dawson-Zimbaletti, and the children of Sacred Heart School.

The Benefits of an Abundance Mentality

Do you know anyone who spends a lot of time and energy competing with others or putting people down verbally because they fear that that person is better than they are?

Are you the type of person who battles their weight, but insists on eating every last morsel of food on your plate because you don’t want to waste?

Or perhaps you can think of someone who has a relationship conflict of some type, and is struggling for an answer of what is the right thing to do.

In these three brief examples, having an “Abundance Mentality” mindset will help overcome the challenges that many of us are faced with on a regular basis.

An Abundance Mentality basically means being of the mindset that there is plenty out there for everyone. There are many benefits to having a mentality that is secure and confident that there is plenty for all, and my mission with this article is to point out these benefits in order to help you to think “Win/Win” when making choices and decisions.

What would our lives be like if we changed our thinking to be in sync with a mentality of abundance? Examples of this mindset would be to believe that the world has fruit for all, that there is plenty to go around, that there is a lot of room at the top, that we are beneath no one and superior to no one. If we could develop this mentality, we would free ourselves from fear, we would be immune to criticism, and we would experience ultimate freedom in our minds and in our hearts.

Our lives will change for the better if we adopt this mentality, and our behavior will be more in line with achieving our own definition of success.

Let’s look at the characteristics of an Abundance Mentality, versus the opposite, which is known as the “Scarcity Mentality”, where people believe that there is only one pie in the world and you’ve got to fight to get your piece of it.

Abundance Mentality Scarcity Mentality
Victory means success that brings mutually beneficial results to all involved. Victory means success at the expense of someone else. 
Recognizes unlimited opportunities for positive growth and development.  Difficulty showing happiness for the success of others including family, friends and business associates.
Realizes that there are three ways to do things, my way, your way and a better way. Difficulty sharing credit, recognition, power and profit.
Appreciates the uniqueness of others. Difficulty being a team player because differences in opinion are perceived as disloyalty.

The Scarcity Mentality is limiting. It may seem like a good plan at first, but over time too much energy is wasted on conflict, negative thinking, and stifled creativity. On the other hand, the Abundance Mentality is beyond one’s ego. It’s fearless, it’s free, and it’s immune to criticism. It is beneath no one and superior to no one. It is full of magic.

What are the benefits of an Abundance Mentality? When it comes to human interaction, characteristics of integrity, maturity, and an Abundance Mentality have the ability to create Win/Win situations for all parties involved.

Win/Win is a thought process of both the mind and the heart that continuously seeks mutual benefit in human interaction. With a Win/Win frame of mind, all parties involved feel good about the solutions, agreements, and decisions because they are mutually beneficial for everyone involved. In this way of thinking, emphasis is put upon cooperation, not competition.

If we don’t already possess an abundance mentality, how do we learn to acquire this new way of thinking? One of the easiest ways to shift your way of thinking is to spend time with a person or people who already thinks this way. (You are the product of 80% of the people you spend time with, so choose to spend time with someone who you feel possesses the qualities and characteristics that you wish to adopt) The characteristics of an Abundance Mentality are listed in the table above). Also, you can read Dr. Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, where Habit #4 is dedicated to “Think Win/Win”. There are workshops, facilitators, and motivators that can help you develop these qualities with continued education, as well as books and even movies that have Win/Win examples within their storylines.

The written advice of Shakti Gawain, author of Creative Visualization, helps you get right into the mindset. She writes, “Imagine yourself as a successful, satisfied prosperous, fulfilled person. Really open your eyes to the goodness, beauty and abundance that are all around you. Imagine this world transformed into a healthy and prosperous environment in which everyone can flourish.” An affirmation that you can repeat to yourself has been provided at the end of this article.

The concept of an Abundance Mentality eliminates the need to criticize others, pass judgment, evaluate, analyze and label people, which create turbulence in our inner dialogue. This constricts the flow of positive energy, which is essential in achieving personal success.

Let’s revisit the three examples from the beginning of this article, to determine how behavior might change in these circumstances with an Abundance mentality.

One who believes that there is plenty for all would not waste energy competing with others. They would look for ways that they could enter Win/Win arrangements, and use synergy in their favour. One who has an abundance mentality knows only to eat until they are full, that their food supply is plentiful and that discarding unwanted food is healthier than stuffing it in and having it stick around for the next 5 years. Relationship conflicts can be kept to a minimum when one or even both parties seek Win/Win solutions. The next time you are in a conflict situation, ask the other person if they would agree to communicate about the issue until you have both reached an agreement that you can feel good about.

I hope you are convinced that having a mentality set on abundance for all is a win/win situation for everyone. With that in mind, I’ll see you at the top!

Best Wishes for Abundance in 2006!

~ Penny Tremblay 

This article was inspired by a dear friend, Monica Martin, who is a constant source of motivation and inspiration to me.

“I believe in abundance, I desire abundance, I receive abundance.”

~ Shakti Gawain

 

You Can Find Humour In Stress

I’ll bet there is not a person reading this who has not felt stress in the past week. Stress is a fact of life, and creeps up on us on a regular basis. I would like to take a moment to look at things a bit differently, and encourage you to find some humour in those things that typically cause you stress.

A Zen like mind sees that there are two sides to every coin. If we look at things that stress us, there are two possible ways to see the situation: one which can cause us great stress, and another which may help us be more open minded and accepting of the situation. I call this way of thinking “Mind Over Matter”, because if you don’t mind, many things really don’t matter.

For example, you get into your car for the morning ride to work. You are in a rush, your petal is to the metal, someone cuts you off, you hit every red light and through all of this your blood pressure is rising, your self-talk is negative, and you are convinced that it is going to be one of those days. You are definitely making choices to be more stressed than you have to be. The next day, you make a conscious decision to be relaxed, take things as they come, and create a great day. You get into your car for the morning ride to work, you are in a rush, but you are driving at a safe and relaxed pace. Someone tries to cut in front of you and you slow down to let them in. You enjoy the stops at the red lights to just relax and take in the wonders around you, your self-talk is positive and grateful, and you make it to work in a great frame of mind, and probably at the same time as the person with their petal to the metal who is all stressed out!

In the example above, you can see that these are choices that we make for ourselves – choosing to be up-tight about the morning ride to work, or choosing to be relaxed and positive about the day’s potential.

Are we over reacting in life? Are we allowing stress to get the better of us? Looking at things from a different perspective can definitely reduce our stress levels. Furthermore, learning to laugh at ourselves can help us transition from stressed to acceptance.

How about keeping life simpler? Could that help your stress level? This is a perfect time of year for an example of maintaining simplicity in our lives. With the holiday season fast approaching, many people choose to take on added tasks of shopping, baking, cleaning, social events and preparation of all types, while we continue to juggle regular home and work tasks. The result is stress, fatigue, and disappointment.

How many people wander around the mall trying to find the perfect gift for someone who already has everything, spending money to buy material things that are nice to have but not necessities (perhaps accumulating debt in the process), spending time wrapping gifts and preparing for a holiday celebration, only to find that they are too tired to enjoy the celebration or too pressed for time to make it to church?

We are trying to maintain all of the traditions of our past, with the fast pace of our current lifestyles, and we just don’t have the time or resources to make it all happen. What if we kept holiday celebrations simpler? What if we looked deep into our values to determine the purpose of the holidays, and made sure that we celebrated the important reasons for them, then considered everything else optional? For example, if you are celebrating Christmas, the birth of Christ, then the most important values might be to participate in the religious ceremonies, and to be with family members. The magnitude of time and energy used for gifts, food, baking, and a clean house to celebrate in, are all secondary to the purpose of the holiday, and can be done as optional tasks if you decide to spend energy on them.

“When we change the way we look at things,

the things we look at change”.

Hopefully you can find humour in your stress, and learn to look at things differently. We can choose not to over react, and to keep life simpler. If we keep life simpler, we will have more time and energy to enjoy the things that really matter most in our lives. I hope you can find some humour in the way you might get all worked up at this time of year preparing for the holidays, and that you can make some changes to keep life simple, so you are able to enjoy what really matters most to you.

Best wishes for a happy holiday season, and a humorous, less stressful New Year.

~ Penny Tremblay

“Children spell love differently than we do.

They spell it T-I-M-E.” ~ unknown

The Character Ethic

Are you noticing an increased rate of conflict, turmoil and relationship breakdown in your environment?

As a trainer, speaker, and coach, I always listen for potential topics of interest that appeal to real life and current issues. Recently, the topics of conflict and relationship breakdown have seemed to be up front and center across many organizations, associations, and individuals. What is happening out there?

I have asked for answers from a myriad of different people who have been affected by this common ‘conflict’ cloud, in order to gain a better understanding of a potential common denominator. My findings have included reasons of greed, selfishness, ego, insecurities, and unrealistic demands and even a planetary crisis*.

One of the most powerful forms of literature that I have digested during my professional career has been something called the ‘Character Ethic’, defined by Dr. Stephen Covey. Covey wrote his national bestseller, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People to help people Restore their Character Ethic.

He writes of the comparison of the Character Ethic, taught in early success literature published in North America, to be a shift within the last 50 years. Covey suggests that views of success shifted to something he termed the ‘Personality Ethic’. Characteristics of each are as follows:

Character Ethic
Personality Ethic
Integrity

Humility

Fidelity

Temperance

Courage

Justice

Patience

Industry

Simplicity

Modesty

Personality

Public image

Attitude

Behaviour

Skill and technique

Influence technique

Power strategies

Communication skills

 

 

The important message here is that the Character Ethic focus is the foundation to which the Personality function can be properly built. For example, if a positive public image is important to me, but I am known around town to write bad cheques, over time people will uncover the truth about my lack of integrity. As a result of this integrity (character) flaw, my desire for a positive public image (personality) will be tarnished.

A rather generic analogy used to demonstrate the order of importance says – in order to build a solid home we must first ensure a solid foundation. The Character Ethic is that solid foundation which focuses on our own personal value system from which all success can be permanent.

When we encounter conflict, turmoil, breakdown in relations, disloyalty and other negative circumstances, we can look to our Character, or our value system, to aid us in resolution. A clear understanding of our character as a value system can even help us avoid unnecessary distress in the first place. Looking at ourselves when we have a conflict, and comparing our actions to the qualities listed in the Character Ethic column can give us an understanding of where we might improve.

Although not all conflict can be resolved, most of the time all it needs is a discipline of understanding ourselves; a deeper look at who we really are, what we stand for, what is important to us, and what we have determined our purpose to be.

The characteristics listed earlier in the Character Ethic column will, when understood and followed, be a solid foundation for you to make effective decisions, resolve issues, build strong relations, and even possibly proudly let go of a relationship gone bad in order to move forward towards continued success. When we hold true to our values we are taking the high road, and when we take the high road we are closer to our God, our spirituality, and our reason for being.

“Search your own heart with all diligence for out it flows the issues of life.” ~ the Psalmist

Best wishes for permanent success.